In the Valley there's amazing Mexican food from the mom 'n' pop hole-in-the-wall to blow-your-mind haute cuisine, Mexican-style. You would think that with such a wealth of delicious and accessible Mexican food on every corner, there would be no need for a "Worst Of..." list. You would be wrong.
What follows is a list of the ten worst places we have ever eaten "Mexican" food. Learn from our mistakes, and avoid these bland, Meximerican monstrosities that have the gall to call themselves Mexican restaurants. (You'll note that Filibertos and Taco Bell did not make the cut, because as much as it shames us to admit it, such fast food joints have their time and place. And that time and place is last call on a Saturday night.)
10. Julio G's If neon lights and faux '50s flair could compensate for flavor, Julio G's would be the Mexican food king. Because that's really all this place has going for it. The menu is ridiculously expensive for such standard deep-fried Meximerican fare, smothered in melted cheese and regret. We'll put it another way: if we found ourselves at Julio G's, we would order the cheeseburger before anything else on the menu.
9. El Portal Mexican Grill El Portal in downtown Phoenix (specifically, in the bottom of the Cronkite School building) must be banking on the fact that a hungry college student will eat almost anything. Perhaps most students don't care so long as the tacos are at least a little crunchy, the shredded meat inside reminds them of chicken, there's a hint of yellow-ish or orange "cheese," and a smattering of tomato bits to make it a "healthy" lunch choice. El Portal's food isn't so much bad as it is bland, and the presentation is sloppy right down to the loosely rolled burritos on the verge of flopping apart. The colors of the beans, vegetables, and meats are all muted like bad cafeteria food, and they'll take any chance they can to top your meal with a combination of cheese, grease, and more grease. Mexican food could be worse. Unpleasant flavors would certainly be worse than no flavor at all.